Like many in the industry, Caleb Richards (pictured) got into insurance almost by accident.
“I actually ran my own music-teaching business,” he told Insurance Business. “I basically fell into insurance via a neighbour who set me up as claims manager, learned the fundamentals quickly, and have continued to keep learning ever since. It’s not an industry for the faint-hearted, but it delivers new challenges and an everchanging environment that, really, requires you to constantly adapt.”
Richards is currently the Wagga Wagga branch manager for Gallagher, a position he’s held since 2014. Though many of his clients in the farming and agriculture sectors are based in rural NSW centres like Wagga Wagga and Griffith, he still deals with customers in cities as far away as Adelaide and Hobart. Indeed, when he spoke with Insurance Business, Richards was driving back to his hometown from having met one of his Sydney-based clients at their place of work – a sure sign of his dedication.
“When COVID-19 came around and we weren’t able to meet clients in-person, it didn’t affect our retention levels,” he said. “I think this is because we do our best to understand how their businesses function and how they tick and, as a result, there’s a really high level of rapport built up.”
“I try to learn from my clients and meet their unique needs, as three different businesses in the same industry can all have different approaches and different risk appetites,” he added.
Richards’ client-centric approach is one that has been fostered by the Gallagher culture, by his account.
“Having worked with Gallagher for a while now, I’ve grown to appreciate how they’re not afraid to encourage and even celebrate individual styles when it comes to how best to engage with clients,” he said. “It’s an environment that really allows you to implement your own approach to client relationships and retention strategies.”
Clearly, Richards’ approach has been working, as he was recently recognised as the winner in the AXA XL Young Gun of the Year – International category at this year’s Insurance Business Australia Awards. Earlier this year he also took out the Gallagher Australia Branch Manager of the Year Award, an honour presented at the global Power of Gallagher conference in the US. For Richards, the success was “a bit surreal” given his status as a regional broker, but it nevertheless indicated that he and his team have been doing things the right way.
“We’ve got a really good team here in Wagga Wagga, and any individual success I attribute to them,” he stated. “We’ve got some long-term staff members who, in true Gallagher style, have been given the space to operate in their own way and bring their own learning and ambitions.
“For me, the true success of the branch comes from embracing the diversity of the team’s personalities.”